What will you do differently at Passover this year? The Passover Seder, celebrated by most American Jews, is the consummate family education event. The entire evening is triggered by questions, asked by the youngest in attendance. Yet, I wonder how many of us take advantage of this opportunity by going ‘off script”?
This inter-generational experience can create indelible memories, savored for years, long past the momentary taste of yummy matzo balls floating assertively on top of the soup bowl.
So, why are so many seders……boring?
Don’t settle for the all too common reading-around-the-table routine, a time-honored tradition where those around the table take turns reading from the Haggadah.
That technique might remind you of your junior high history class: “Good morning class, open your books to page 129. Susan, please read the paragraph at the top of the page, and then we’ll go around the room and everyone will take a turn reading….”
Reading aloud in turn is a slow process with an extremely high degree of predictability–at some tired point you do get to the end.
Let’s not sell the Seder short by using educational techniques that are outdated.
Since the Seder affords us such an undeniable educational opportunity, why not plan for it the way one might plan a lesson?
What would that look like? Well, think about set induction, varied activities, opportunities to engage participants using multiple sensory experiences, asking deep questions of meaning….and you’ll be on the right track.
A sample of ways to engage Jewish teens might be the following triggers:
I. “Let My People Go” is a powerful statement in the Torah.
Why is this not recounted in the Haggadah?
What does this say about Leadership? Can one stand without the other?
II. In a sense, this idea of obtaining a people’s freedom spurred on a revolution, which has had ripple effects even today (think of how many people are demanding self-determination).
How might you communicate that concept today in a way that people would respond? Think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. What #Hashtag would you use? What would be your update? What would your 140 character message be?
III. Powerful statements have often rallied people behind a cause. Think of: “If you will it, it is no dream”, ‘I Have a Dream”, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” , and not to be too trite, but even “Think Different” (apple’s tagline from its early days). Is there a statement today that resonates with you? Why or why not? What other sayings can you think of that you might write to inspire others?
You get the idea….forget the predictability and go for the unknown.
Isn’t that what the Seder is truly about? Our ability to tell stories and pass them on through the generations is what brought us as a people to this point in time.
For sure, those themes are what teens can relate to: safe versus risk, small minority versus the ruling power, predictability versus self-determination, freedom versus responsibility….just think about the rich conversations that could be going around your table!
I wish you and your loved ones a Chag Kasher v’Sameach!